Anonymous: The Fractured Histories of Found Photographs at the Dina Mitrani Gallery
The Dina Mitrani Gallery in Miami recently opened a unique exhibition of found photographs, Anonymous: The Fractured Histories of Found Photographs, dating from the early 1900s and ranging from tin types, to polaroids, slides and family albums. Found photographs have taken on new considerations and are widely collected by artists and curators as evidenced in the ground breaking exhibition, Secondhand, at Pier 24 in San Francisco earlier this year.
The exhibition also includes work on loan from the collections of Kevin Arrow, Francie Bishop Good, Gloria O’Connell, Ivan Santiago, Augusto Mendoza, Pip and Duane Brant, George Valcarse, Abner Nolan. The show will be on view through August 29th.
Yes, most of the photographs are for sale, but the true purpose of the exhibition is to enjoy and consider our photographic history and bring our own interpretations and stories to to the images. In a time where we are the most photographed generation in history, the irony is that there is very little physical documentation that will be handed down to future generations, and perhaps this celebration of the past will send us back to creating photo albums.
This collection of found pictures is both curious and recognizable. Film-based photos arrive with much surprise and disappointment as they are made through a developing process and never indicated on the back of the camera. The collaboration between the photographer and subject is less sure and more hopeful. The results, many unfocused and filled with formally unnecessary elements, are collected and appreciated, spared the harsh critique of the art world. The fortuitous accidents created by camera “mistakes” give many of these images a heightened sense of artifice and nostalgia. The photographs assume the role of abstracted symbols of life lived and enjoyed, and imply innocence of the future.
And now they have found their way into an art gallery, taking on the added weight of irony and conjecture. Their original makers have been forgotten, authorship assumed by the images’ collectors. How are we, smart phones comfortably available on our persons, to understand the smile of a proper gentleman posed before a photographer hidden behind a black cloth? How do we see a couple dressed in the laughable outfits of the 1970’s smiling on a cruise ship deck? Perhaps with relief, the pressure of creative ownership lifted, the experience of looking, filled with mistaken omnipotence.
– Peggy Levison Nolan, Curator
About the curator, Peggy Levison Nolan: Nolan’s work is included in collections such as the MOMA in New York, the San Francisco MOMA and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC. Her work was recently acquired by the MOCA in North Miami and was part of a group show at the Harn Museum at the University of Florida. She participated in By and About Women, a portfolio of 10 photographs that included notable women photographers such as Helen Levitt, Carrie May Weems and Mary Ellen Mark. She was a Photolucida Critical Mass finalist and a resident at Lightwork in Syracuse. Nolan has received numerous grants and awards including the South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship and has been teaching photography at Florida International University for over 10 years. She raised seven children and has five grandchildren.
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